Wage theft robs workers of pay they deservedly earned, but also robs the government of about $18 billion a year in revenue according to Kim Bobo, executive director of the Interfaith Worker Justice organization. Speaking at a labor luncheon on Feb. 21 in Washington, D.C., Bobo cited several examples. A Vietnamese restaurant chain in New York City was found to have paid its workers, on average, $540 a month. “That’s less than $2 an hour,” Bobo said. That was before their bosses levied $20 fines against them for such infractions as typing too slowly or slamming a door too loudly.
Bobo also said that there are an estimated 30 million workers who are wrongly classified as independent contractors, allowing employers to avoid paying taxes on their wages. “That’s not only stealing from the workers, but stealing from the public coffers,” she added while calling for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would transfer from employers to employees the decision on how a union representing the workers will be formed.